Small business owners have known the value of building communities for a long time. When you’re able to establish meaningful connections with people, it is significantly more likely that people will become repeat customers and tell their friends about your business. In the modern age we’re in with so many internet users connecting with one another and engaging with businesses on social media, building a community around your business using social media is one of the best ways to reach the greatest possible number of people.
So how do you go about building a community on social media then?
Don’t Just Post, Engage with People
One common mistake that many businesses make on social media is treating it like a megaphone for whatever they want to blast out to the world. While it is important to get your message out online, it is just as important (or even more important) that you go beyond this and engage with other people too.
Make sure to like and comment on the posts of those who you follow, and actively follow people back when they follow you. If someone makes a comment on one of your posts, make sure to comment back and follow them. Another great strategy is to look through any hashtags that you use in your posts and engage with other people who use those same hashtags. This allows you to find new accounts that share interest that are similar to yours.
It’s also important that you engage in a meaningful way, and not just with the same generic comment that you make on everyone’s posts. This doesn’t mean that you have to spend tons of time thinking of the perfect comment to make, you should at least put some effort into personalizing what you say in order to make a genuine connection with someone.
When you actively seek out conversations and engagement on social media, this helps you to create deeper connections with people than you would if you just shouted out your updates to anyone who would listen.
Create a Branded #Hashtag
Another way to help build a community online is to create a branded hashtag. In general, hashtags are a way for people to make their posts discoverable by other people who share their interest in a topic. A branded hashtag is one that you create specifically around your business and encourage others to use too. For example, we use the branded hashtag #taphunter in our posts on Instagram.
When people come in to visit your location, you should display your branded hashtag somewhere clearly visible so that they will know to use it in their posts. You can look up all of the posts that use your hashtag and engage with them by liking and commenting. Another great idea is to repost other people’s posts, which both makes them feel special and helps you to have more content.
Just about every social media company these days has direct messaging as a feature, in addition to posting and commenting. When used wisely, a direct message can be the perfect way to connect with someone in a meaningful way.
One example of a situation where it’s appropriate to direct message someone is if they post a positive post about visiting your business. If you send someone a direct message with a special offer on their next visit they’ll be much more likely to come back sooner and now you’ve made a closer connection with that customer. You can even continue to incentivize people with different offers if they come in and post high quality photos multiple times.
You should also keep a close eye out for anyone messaging your business to report a bad experience or asking you a question. These are great opportunities to be responsive and create a positive relationship with this person from that point forward.
While these are now the only ways that you can build a community around your business using social media, they will help you to create a habit of engaging with other people in a meaningful way. This is the foundation of a community, and if you put in the effort to truly connect with people it will be well worth it.